With Hobby Tribe, it will be easy for you to finally take out time for your hobbies

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As time passes by, we often get busy and neglect what we always want to do. Maybe learning to play the guitar, or learning to play the piano, drawing, a lot more. These are the things that make our lives memorable and also make us feel that we are doing something for ourselves.

Having a hobby and pursuing it helps us a lot. We don’t realize this as kids but when we grow up the regret is heavy. Also, hobbies have become ‘extracurricular’ activities for kids where it is not for stress relief but it becomes like a competition with other kids. That’s not what hobbies are, explains Joshua Salins, the founder of Hobby Tribe.

Team Sociobits connected with the Founder of Hobby Tribe to know more about his innovative startup and how it is making it easier for people to take time out for their hobbies.

Team Sociobits: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Mr. Joshua Salins: I didn’t start off as an entrepreneur because I decided to do Biomedical Engineering. This is funny because I never planned to do any of this stuff but I am a huge hobby enthusiast; I play the guitar, and keyboard, I sing, dance, act and do a lot of other things! And I really really wanted to be a doctor/engineer but you cannot be both it’s either/or so I did some research and I found out that biomedical engineering is sort of in between. So, I started pursuing it to make the world a better place, which I feel I am still doing in a different way.

Team Sociobits: From Biomedical Engineering, how did you start ideating Hobby Tribe?

Founder: So, I always loved pursuing my hobbies and passions. I started realizing that somewhere down the line people stop pursuing what they loved to do, like something they are passionate about majorly because of the time.

I remember my friends used to tell me, “Hey! Remember we used to sing together or act on stage together (at some particular)” But then they just stopped doing it. And I always wondered, WHY? And the answer used to be: There’s just no time!

I remember my friends used to tell me, “Hey! Remember we used to sing together or act on stage together (at some particular)” But then they just stopped doing it. And I always wondered, WHY? And the answer used to be: There’s just no time!

That’s when I realized that I feel happier doing the things that I love rather than following the same mundane lifestyle. When you pursue something that you like, it breaks the momentum of doing the same old thing over and over again because you are learning something new and you are able to keep your mind occupied.

The founding story of Hobby Tribe or the whole transitioning story is actually very funny. When I was in the Placement cell of Biomedical Engineering, one of the teachers entered very enthusiastically and started telling us about the potential that lies in learning biomedical engineering. Everyone got super excited to see how much their hard work and efforts are going to get paid.

To our surprise, the next thing the teacher told us was the highest we can earn being a biomedical engineer is Rs. 30,000 a month! And all of us were thinking that we paid eight lakhs and this is the highest we can earn. He then moved on to tell us that the least we can make is Rs. 10,000 a month as if that was a relief.

So, we got to thinking that we cannot survive in Bombay like this. I also started thinking of other things that I can do because even though I really wanted to pursue this but it the space has not picked up in India. So, I started teaching the guitar and keyboard to my friends and family. Then one thing led to another and, here we have Hobby Tribe!

Team Sociobits: So, what exactly are you offering through Hobby Tribe?

Founder: While teaching, I started understanding a pattern that people have as to why they never pursue their hobbies. You can sum it up in the THREE Ts: Time, Travel, and Treasure (money). These are the three main problems why people don’t pursue their hobbies or passions. This stuck with me and I realized that if I want to create something, I want to make sure that I can solve this problem. Because when you are an entrepreneur, you are a problem solver first.

So, when I got that this is the problem the whole market is fixing, I started working my way around it and minimizing it. So since I had a lot of things going on, and I also knew people in my circle who could teach but couldn’t get students, I told them that I can get you the students, and you give me a commission out of it.

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They agreed to it and to solve the 3 Ts, I started renting out places in my vicinity to cover the travel. I took the money from here and invested in the place. I also started telling the teachers to visit those places at a specific time hence, solving another T (time).

So, by understanding the preferable time, location and price, I made a package that suited the students and that’s when we started growing. I used to act like an employee of a company and go talk to random people in the gardens, and trains, and ask them questions like ‘What if you learn the guitar?’

While teaching, I started understanding a pattern that people have as to why they never pursue their hobbies. You can sum it up in the THREE Ts: Time, Travel, and Treasure (money). These are the three main problems why people don’t pursue their hobbies or passions.

Even at this point, I was not thinking of entrepreneurship at all. But this is how Hobby Tribe evolved from being a class that I used to run and slowly into a business. I also met my co-founders in the process. My co-founder’s brother was actually one of my first students. While teaching the keyboard, I approached him if he could be able to code something as I didn’t know anything about it. I also gave him the disclaimer that I have no money, and he agreed!

He also got one of his friends on board and after this, the pandemic hit! So we pivoted from an offline model to an online model and that is when we scaled and Hobby Tribe started becoming Hobby Tribe!

About our offerings; when people start learning they either can’t find the right teacher or they don’t know where to start. So, I made a uniform platform where they just come to the platform, find the class, book a teacher and immediately start learning. So, people don’t have to ask around or wait aimlessly as to who will give me the teacher.

The best part is we understand how important is the connection of a teacher with their student, because if that’s not there, then the class gets very boring. So, if you don’t like the teacher after a trial class, then you can change as many times as you want until you find the right teacher.

Team Sociobits: So, do you choose these teachers or do they come to you?

Founder: See, it’s not like a marketplace where you search for idli and you get hundreds of options to choose from which gives you something called analysis paralysis where you are stuck at deciding which idli to eat and then you end up having Maggi. This actually happens so if you search for ‘guitar class’ on Hobby Tribe, you’ll get one guitar class, you pick your day and time and we’ll assign you a teacher.

Team Sociobits: Did the pandemic sort of help you and Hobby Tribe?

Founder: In a way, it did. But while a lot of people said it was a COVID baby, it was not. We started way before that but COVID helped us build a model that we never thought was practically possible. People used to come and tell us that we are stupid and nobody will be willing to come and learn guitar online. But that is what being an entrepreneur if Steve Jobs listened to the people around him, then he would have never made the computer.

You have to keep pushing your boundaries and the more people laugh at you the more you know that you are doing the right thing. That kept motivating us and pushing us to JUST DO IT. What is the worst that can happen?

You have to keep pushing your boundaries and the more people laugh at you the more you know that you are doing the right thing. That kept motivating us and pushing us to JUST DO IT. What is the worst that can happen?

Team Sociobits: Even if COVID-19 helped you grow, do you think people prefer learning online or offline?

Founder: You need to keep adapting to the market. After the pandemic, we did notice that people want offline classes. So, we are working on a hybrid model where people can choose whether they want to do it online or offline.

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So, we are coming back to our roots or where we started but we are much wiser now and we can execute it better.

Team Sociobits: As an entrepreneur, could you point out any challenges that you faced?

Founder: The biggest challenge was to convince people to join online classes. After working so hard, people didn’t want to continue anymore and wanted to do it after the pandemic gets over, we did feel what should we do next and we didn’t want to give up!

So, we convinced people don’t pay for the full course. Just pay for a week and see. If you like it, you can continue it. Doing this took a lot of time but it actually worked in our favor because we were forced to think out of the box.

I then approached my old school and spoke to my teacher about the variety of hobby classes they can offer to the children who were super bored at home because of the pandemic. I told them we have like every hobby class available even when we had nothing! So the next day, she gave me a whole list of hobby activities that we definitely didn’t have.

So, we contacted teachers and got them onboard and this was such a hit that it spread to Dubai, America and then adults started joining us! And we changed our pricing model as I mentioned before. Students could pay on a weekly basis and eventually, they got fed up that rather than paying every week, let’s just pay for the whole thing. Creating this whole thing was slow but you have to go through the whole process to create that habit with your customers.

The biggest challenge was to convince people to join online classes. After working so hard, people didn’t want to continue anymore and wanted to do it after the pandemic gets over, and we didn’t want to give up!

Team Sociobits: Today, even when we talk about hobbies, people want something out of it like a certification. What do you think about this?

Founder: Yes, I do get customers who not just ask if their kids will get a certificate (which they will) but they also want to know if there are exams. I feel like this is a hobby, the primary thing here is that you need to enjoy it and not write an exam on it.

Nobody cares the percentage your son/daughter scores in his guitar or keyboard class. Half of the time the kid doesn’t even know what their parents are demanding. See but at the end of the day, the customer is king. If they want it, we need to offer it and also tell them that this is not the ideal approach. And now, it is getting better. People don’t want to put a lot of pressure on their kids.

Team Sociobits: Where do you see Hobby Tribe, five years down the line?

Founder: In India, whenever someone says that ‘I want to be a singer or a dancer!’, the first thing that parents say is that nobody is going to marry you! That is literally how India looks at this space which is really sad because that person doesn’t want to be an engineer or doctor. Currently, if you are an engineer, doctor, or lawyer, only then you can get married. Otherwise, no other stream you choose will make you happy.

With Hobby Tribe, we are breaking that boundary. We are building a whole new career path for millions of Indians. People can be whatever they want to be. They can create a career by doing what they like to do and that is where I see Hobby Tribe going.

We are creating a whole new cultural difference in India where it is no longer taboo or shameful to be a singer, a dancer, or anything that you wish for. Forget about the money, or getting students or teachers on board. This is our main goal. And I am predicting that at least by 2025, it will be a mainstream thing for people to coolly say that I did arts and I am looking to be a singer.

With the goal that people start enjoying and learning their hobbies and also giving them the kick start to finally pursue their passion, Hobby Tribe is moving forward one step at a time. The founder also urges people to pursue their dreams and hobbies and not to worry about what people say.

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